EUGLOREH project
THE STATUS OF HEALTH IN THE EUROPEAN UNION:
TOWARDS A HEALTHIER EUROPE

FULL REPORT

PART II - HEALTH CONDITIONS

9. MAIN HEALTH ISSUES AND TRENDS FOR DIFFERENT AGE AND GENDER POPULATION GROUPS

9.2. Children and adolescents (age 1-18)

9.2.6. Future developments

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9.2.6. Future developments

 

EU influence on the health of children and young people is at first sight limited, since Member States are largely responsible for the implementation of healthcare in their respective countries. However, evidence can act as a tool for change, whilst the enhanced collection of comparative data on children, including gender segregated research, can highlight anomalies.

 

Moreover, and importantly, the health sector and health services are not the only determinants of health – indeed, they arguably represent only a small part. Policies on planning and urban design, transport, environment, social policy and poverty alleviation, employment, and education are just some of the other kind of policies which may have an impact on children’s health. Hence, the recent European Commission thrust towards considering Health in All Policies, not least under the Finnish Presidency in 2006 (Ståhl et al, 2006; Council of the European Union, 2006), and through the Rome Ministerial Conference on 18 December 2007

 

The European Parliament and Council have recently adopted a Second Programme of Community Action in the Field of Health 2008-2013 (European Parliament and Council, 2007). The proposed programme includes health promotion and prevention and specifically includes children’s health.

 

Top priorities / key areas for a European action plan:

 

A number of important child health information initiatives are already being sponsored by DG SANCO, including the Scientific Platform on behavioural determinants of obesity, and projects on child safety and perinatal health. Given that background, and the current WHO initiatives, the following are further issues which remain to be addressed, which form suggested priorities for Commission action:

 

·          Measuring and monitoring health, well being and morbidity of children.

It is a priority to study the pattern of health of children, their physical and mental well being and its compromises, and identifiable morbidity of a transient or permanent nature. This is a higher priority than the analysis of patterns of child mortality. It is also essential to focus on health and well being of children, the positives, as well as on illness as the negatives. This will encourage coverage of positive mental health and measurement of mental well being, harmonising with other European priorities but measured specifically for children of different ages;

 

·          Child impairment, disability, and special needs

and impact assessment of impairment and disability in children differ significantly compared to adults. The impact of disability on children’s lives at different stages of development varies. The development of a variation for children of a measurement tool based on the ability to perform activities of daily living is a priority;

 

·          Intentional harm and injury to children

The improvement of information and pooling of information from across Europe is a priority. In addition, it is necessary to defineintentional harm” and provide a platform to support and harmonise efforts to establish statistical reporting systems in hospitals and primary care to seek improved identification and measurement of the problem.

 

The health of the child begins in the womb, hence parental nutrition, education, and health-related behaviour are major child health determinants. Attention also needs to continue to be paid to the psycho-social and economic determinants of health. These should include the promotion of accessible, clean and attractive environments, education and the prevention of disease. It has been seen that in the absence of disease, immunisation has lost priority. Programmes will need to be reviewed to counter renewed outbreaks.

 

In later life, the health and development of children and of their enduring health-related behaviour, are heavily influenced by societal, commercial and peer pressures. Promotion of health and healthy lifestyles and environments for children needs to move higher up the European and political agenda, if Europe is to be seen as a responsible and caring community.